As summer begins, employees are increasingly distracted by upcoming holidays and warmer weather. Read how businesses can turn employees’ summer distractions into a perfect opportunity through fun, effective outdoor team building events.
As the 2012 summer approaches, the UK is faced with several economic and socio-political factors that could dramatically impact work productivity. A perennial productivity problem is well-documented in several UK studies, with a recent one conducted in 2011 from the Office of National Statistics. The Daily Mail outlined the stark reality that the UK lags among wealthy nations in work productivity:
“The ONS also said productivity growth in the UK in 2010 was less than the G7 average in terms of both GDP per worker and GDP per hour worked. The dismal figures are likely to raise concerns over the UK’s fragile economic recovery and growth prospects this year, after a raft of economic data pointed towards a recent poor performance.”
Adding to this downward trend in overall worker productivity, this particular summer is posing some specific challenges to businesses as well. Thomas Vollrath recently wrote an interesting article on InspiresMe that speaks directly to how the Olympics, bank holidays, the jubilee, and other 2012-specific events will have a palpable drain on the economy:
“Summer 2012 brings with it a number of opportunities and difficulties for UK businesses. With an additional public holiday in June for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and the London Olympics in July and August, there will be an inevitable impact, not only on London, but on the UK as a whole. Work efficiency is likely to suffer as a result.”
Vollrath is spot-on with his analysis, though he fails to acknowledge the fact that all first-world economies suffer a dip in worker focus and productivity during the summer, simply by virtue of the fact that the vast majority of workers take their holidays between June and August, with August of course being the heaviest month. Businesses struggle with holiday schedules in the summer, to be sure, but in addition to losing key workers for large swaths of time due to summer holidays, there is also a less tangible drop in focus among workers prior to their holidays, as they tend to daydream more about their impending trip to the Algarve than getting on with the work at hand.
With this in mind, what can managers and directors at companies in the UK do to stem the tide of low productivity in the summer months?
In his article, Vollrath offers some usual suspects as far as improved summer productivity is concerned: maintaining high standards, offering flexible working conditions, “M-commerce” (using mobile apps and technology to let workers work offsite), and taking advantage of key milestones and dates. These certainly aren’t a bad place to start, but trying to reinforce key milestones and maintaining high standards would seem to be at odds with the prevailing sense of a more lax working environment that comes with the summer. Even managers and directors encourage this (they take summer holidays, too!)
However, the notion of accommodating an “offsite” working experience is more along the lines of what can really work for upping productivity. Specifically, outdoor team building events can go a long way toward channeling the excitement of summer holidays with learning some new, revitalizing skills that will ultimately result in higher productivity.
How Outdoor Team Building Events Can Increase Productivity
Look: your employees are dreaming of escaping the doldrums of office life, so why not give them what they want? The benefit of an outdoor team event is that it breaks up the monotony and disjointedness of an office in the summer: many offices are often understaffed with some employees on holidays. if the office is already running under capacity, outdoor team building events give workers the opportunity to get out into the sun and warmer weather. It can be well-positioned in July or early August, in particular.
Unlike some indoor team building events, which can tend to be more cerebral, outdoor team building events usually entail more physical action, levity, and a harkening back to workers’ more play-filled youth. School Sports Day, for example, draws directly from school experiences, where the student body has a chance to put down the books for a day and engage in sport and competition. This kind of event has a really pervasive effect on a workforce, and the team building skills that are reinforced within the event can have maximum, immediate impact — even in the summer.
And considering that studies show that people who exercise are more productive at work, an outdoor team building event like this can go a long way toward putting employees on a consistent path of increased productivity.
Even more well suited for the summer months is an outdoor team building event like It’s a Knockout. Events like It’s a Knockout feature zany, inflatable challenges, water slides, and other challenges that scarcely seem like team building events. And yet, as your staff engages in them, the implicitly team building skills are being taught as they feel more like they are on holiday than at work.
And since the UK is hosting the Olympics this summer, there are also plenty of Olympics-themeed outdoor team building events to choose from as well. Team Office Olympic Games take place outdoors and bring the competitiveness, challenge, and glory of the Olympics to your office staff. It’s a great way to encourage further achievement and teamwork in the summer months.
Aside from the Christmas holiday, the summer months clearly pose the biggest challenge for businesses to keep their employees sharp. But through a bit of creative planning and hosting an outdoor team building event, increased productivity can indeed become a reality for employees.